MANILA – Japan and the Philippines on Thursday signed the 253.3-billion-yen (PHP112.1 billion) loan agreement for the Metro Manila Subway Project Phase 1.

The Japanese Embassy in Manila said this second tranche of official development assistance loan follows Tokyo's first tranche funding of 104.53 billion yen, which was signed in March 2018.

The agreement was inked by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Philippines Representative Azukisawa Eigo in a ceremony also attended by Japanese Ambassador Koshikawa Kazuhiko.

“The Metro Manila Subway was first planned in the 1970s, but it remained a plan for about half a century. Through the strong push and determination of the Duterte administration, this 'project of the century' is now steadily progressing. I am pleased that our tunnel boring machine will soon start excavating under the Metro Manila area in the 2nd quarter of this year," Koshikawa said Thursday.

The envoy said he is optimistic this project will serve as "one driving force" to revitalize the Philippine economy.

"Filipinos can count on Japan to continuously extend our utmost support until this project is successfully completed," he said.

As one of the flagship developments under the “Build, Build, Build” program, the 17-station subway will reduce the travel time between Quezon City and Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) from the current 70 minutes to only 35 minutes.

It also seeks to address the worsening congestion in Metro Manila caused by poor road network and the rising population's demand for transportation. (PNA)